How To Network With American Professionals in 4 Steps
Networking in the USA and networking in France offer many differences.
How do Americans network ? What is the process ? Why do they network ? What are the Don’ts ?
It all starts with one simple commonly agreed fact:
“People do business with people they know, like and trust”.
Therefore, to get business, we need to know people, be likeable* and trust each other … Simple !
Here are a few tips to help you shine during networking events in USA:
#1 Networking is PREPARATION
1/ Have your business cards ready !
2/ You need to have a good elevator pitch… What is an elevator pitch ?
It’s a speech made of two to three sentences summarizing who you are, what you do now, what service, product or expertise you can offer to your interlocutor and how you differentiate yourself from others.
3/ Who is attending ? Do you know or can you know who is attending the event ?
(Becoming a member of a Networking Organization usually gives you access to the list of all members and attendees. You can also sometimes see who is attending when the event is organized on meetup, linkedin or facebook)
If you do, then prepare. Select who you want to talk to, do a little research on the person and company and prepare your speech to grab their attention.
4/ Set goals. Like for any meeting, set the goals you intend to reach during this event. Who do you want to talk to ? Who is your target ? How many people do you want to meet ?
5/ Prepare yourself mentally. Be happy to meet new people you can help. SMILE !
#2 Networking is a 3 short steps PROCESS
1. First, introduce yourself with an elevator pitch.
2. The interlocutor introduces himself, the same way
3. You discuss to find out how you can help each other. Are you interested in each other’s business ? What is your ideal client ? Do you know anyone who would be interested or could help your interlocutor?
During step 3, many case scenarios are possible:
1/ Best case scenario: you can help each other immediately and do business
2/ You know someone who can help this person, someone who would be interested in your interlocutor’s business. Then offer to make an introduction.
3/ You have tips, you know websites or organizations that can help your interlocutor: share immediately or write these information in a follow-up e-mail.
4/ You cannot help each other at all at the moment. Nevermind, it happens ! However, you can still CONNECT on linkedin! Grow each other’s network through Linkedin and keep each other in mind for the future.
#3 Networking is a MINDSET
A good network is like information: smartly used, it is POWER.
It’s essential to keep in mind that business is done between PEOPLE. People with emotions, feelings, personal goals, people who have worries, challenges, hobbies…
It’s easy to understand people, we all have the same main challenges.
Being genuinely interested in people, listening to them, understanding them and offering to help will create a strong and beautiful relationship called FRIENDSHIP. Friends who help each other succeed in their life and own businesses.
Introduce yourself as a RESOURCE they can trust and rely on. Offer SOLUTIONS more than arguments as to why they should do business with you.
Keep in mind again:
NETWORKING IS ALL ABOUT HELPING EACH OTHER
NETWORKING IS ABOUT CREATING LONG TERM RELATIONSHIPS
. Do not stick to one person during the entire event. You are here to connect to as many people as possible.
. Do not tell your entire career path chronologically. Americans live in the present. They are interested in what can you offer now, and less in what you did in the past.
. Do not get offended if someone sneaks in on your conversation. It’s normal. Welcome the person warmly and include them in the conversation. The purpose of the event is to make a first connection, not to start building a relationship. Building a relationship comes later when you do your follow-up e-mails or phone calls with people and offer to meet them again over coffee or lunch.
. Be politically correct. “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything”. Moreover, it is commonly accepted fact that talking about religion and politics at a first meeting is not appropriate.
. Do not go to a networking event to sell yourself. Go with an open mind to offer advice and solutions without asking anything in return.
Think About Building Long-Term Relationships
In life, you never know who will help you, how and when.
Networking is about helping each other to be successful.
Last but not least, following-up with people is utmost important ! After the first connection during the networking event, contact people to have coffee, lunch or drinks to discuss more in depth, get to know each other and find ways to help.
Keep the connection alive, never drop it ! Never burn any bridges!
*: to be liked: Dale Carnegie published a wonderful book in 1937: How To Win Friends and Influence People. A best seller even today. A must read !